Get Stuff Done

It’s a challenge… staying focused and getting tasks finished in a timely manner. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re looking at a giant to-do list and wondering how you’re going to get it all done. As the great Tina Fey pointed out, confident women get stuff done folks. Productivity is measured in the efficiency of output. The more efficient you are at tasks the more productive you are. How you manage your space and your time and your confidence directly influences your ability to get things accomplished. I love what Tina Fey says about the confidence to contribute your thoughts and ideas, “Always make sure you’re adding to the discussion.” Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. If you wait until you’ve “perfected” yourself you’ll never make any real contribution. We’re all works in progress. Believe in your ability to make it happen! With that said, I wanted to take a minute today to share with you what I feel are 5 essentials for productivity.

  1. First, make sure that you set yourself up for success by being prepared (yes I was a Girl Scout). Do your research, know your job, be the best you can be for the task at hand. For me, this means being sure that I’m up to date on any changes to our system or processing and making sure that my files are in order. I’m constantly bettering myself and I believe this contributes to my efficiency. If you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you possibly do it well? Take time for continuing education and improvement. Be sure that you are “sharpening the saw.”
  2. Second, set up your workstation (wherever that is) for optimum efficiency by having everything clean, sorted, and in its place. My workplace had a consultant come in and evaluate our workstations to help us determine how we should be sitting and where our monitors and keyboard and mouse should be located for optimal ergonomics. I am a shorty so my seat sits closer to the ground, therefore I utilize a keyboard tray to keep my arms and wrists at the correct angle. I know many people who work from home and set up their laptop on their laps. This is terrible for your back and neck. Do your research to see how you should set up your environment to achieve optimum ergonomics and watch your productivity level increase!
  3. Next, utilize background noise to limit distractions. I know this might sound counter-intuitive but it works. Although high levels of noise can impair your creativity, low levels actually help you concentrate. The same way that white noise can help folks sleep, the same can be said for helping you stay focused while awake. For me, I like to play a low level of background noise in the form of music. The key is to be sure the volume is low… not too loud to distract but enough to blend in the background and drown out the random noises that interrupt your concentration. Create a Pandora or Spotify station of relaxing classical music or choose a playlist of singer/songwriters that can just fade into the background. You’ll be amazed at how a little background noise can help you become more efficient.
  4. Then, take frequent breaks! Don’t get so caught up in your work that hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten up from your desk. I’m the worst at this. I know that I perform better when I take breaks to stretch and walk around. Even if you cannot make the time to physically walk away from the task at hand be sure to give yourself a mental break. Take five minutes and cruise Facebook (just don’t get lost and forget to come back to your task). If you have to, set a timer to remind you when the break is over and when you need to get back to work. Frequent mental (and physical when possible) breaks help you to remain better focused and to complete the task in an efficient and timely manner. It may seem counter-productive to take time away from the task but research has shown it’s the best thing you can do.
  5. Finally, reward yourself for a job well done. When you have a clear finish line and a clear reward you’re more likely to stick to the task and see it through completion. Keep track of your to-do list and check off the items as they’re completed. A big line drawn through the task can be reward in itself. If you need more motivation be sure to set yourself up for success by utilizing appropriate rewards such as scheduling a lunch date to celebrate the completion of an important goal. I bring lunch from home each day and try hard not to spend money on lunch during the week, however, when I know that I have a challenging task to complete I’ll schedule a lunch date with a friend so I have that to look forward to when I’m finished. It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments.

So, what about you? What do you do to stay focused and to maximize your productivity? Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share this information if you found it useful. If you need more inspiration, set yourself up for success with this post I wrote a few years ago. Make it a great day!

MissCaron

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New Year – New Goals

Hello everyone and I hope that you’ve had a wonderful extended holiday. Craig and I were able to spend some time with our family and were able to start on yet another construction project so I’d say it was a pretty good holiday in my book. I’m back today with a post on, what else, new year goal setting.

January is typically a time of year in which we take a moment to reflect on the past year, the good and the bad, and make new goals for the coming year. I’ve decided to set 5 goals for the year 2015. I feel that by keeping these goals broad I’m better able to make them a reality. I know myself and I know that I routinely fail. Instead of focusing on the challenges negatively I’m going to use them to my advantage. So, here goes:

  1. Focus on Christ – First, and foremost, I plan on really renewing my relationship with Christ. Through daily reading, my small group, and church attendance I hope to make some new habits that have a life long effect. Starting this month I have been daily reading in an app called She Reads Truth. This app makes it super easy to stay in the word on a daily basis and it has a wonderful graphic at the end of each reading to share through social media as a way to hold yourself better accountable and to share God’s goodness and grace. I really enjoy the format and I pray to make this become habit. In addition to She Reads Truth, I’m leading my small group (aka Life Group) in the Beth Moore study of Esther. This is a study I have done before years ago and I’m looking forward to doing again with my group. I pray that God uses me for these women and their hope in Him. Also, I’m still involved in the Disciple study that goes through May this year so I’ve got a lot of ways to really make my relationship with Christ more intentional.
  2. Nurture Relationships – I feel like this goal really goes along well with my number one goal this year. In 2015 I really want to work more on strengthening my relationships with my husband, my family, and even more so, my friends. It is so easy to get caught up in daily life that I let my relationships fall by the wayside. Like I mentioned with my first goal, being more intentional means that I’m really making time for what is important. Last year, the deaths of both of my fathers really brought home the importance of relationships. I’m going to work harder on strengthening my relationship with my husband by daily making time for his needs. Whether it is as simple as being more diligent with my cleaning or making more time for physical affection, I plan on making him a priority. I want to be sure that we are setting ourselves up for success with a long and healthy marriage. In addition, Craig and I have talked at length about focusing on our friendships this year and making time to clear our schedule for our friends. We can get so busy at times that we’ve gone a whole month and haven’t spent time with anyone but ourselves. Well, this year we want to change. I want to make sure to take more time for my mom this year and I want to visit my grandparents more. Hopefully this goal will make a lasting change in our lives.
  3. Healthy Living – This past December I started taking classes at my local Pure Barre and I’ve really enjoyed the workout it gives me. I’m enjoying the classes and their varied but yet consistent nature. In addition to remaining in a workout routine for 2015 I am going to continue my healthy living by really working on my diet. I’ve decided this year that I will no longer be drinking soda (specifically dark soda). I know that if I eliminate Coca Cola Classic completely from my diet I will need something to wean me off it’s deliciousness so if I find myself somewhere (like a drive through) where I feel the need to order a soda I will order a Sprite. If y’all know me it’s how much I love a good Coke. The real thing … no diet! I drink them rarely because we don’t keep soda in the house. We know how bad sodas are for you so we treat them as special occasion drinks. With that being said, this year I plan on eliminating them entirely. Craig and I are going to try and get pregnant this year so my health is even more important now. We already do a pretty good job with our health but I plan on stepping it up with diet and exercise and regularly taking my prenatal vitamins.
  4. Better my Budget – Okay, so this is a tough one. This year I’m really going to work on my saving and spending habits. I like to think that Craig and I are pretty good at this already (at least he is) but I know that with a baby coming we really need to step up our game. I’m one of those people who really HATE to budget. Not that I can’t live with a budget, just that I hate tracking and dealing with all the math! It’s easy for me because Craig and I took a look at expenses and we have put me on a cash diet to keep my spending in check but I still find times that I’m swiping my Amex or not really knowing what I’ve spent my money on that past month. This year I want to be more conscious of the whole process and to be more active in pursuing better spending habits. We want to make sure we’re setting ourselves up financially in the best possible way, especially with a future child in the picture. Seeing as my husband is an accountant this goal is a very real one for us.
  5. Personal Development – Finally, I really want to work on myself both professionally and personally. I don’t have time to re-enroll in graduate school this year but that doesn’t mean I can’t make time to pick up Fluenz again. I want to keep my brain sharp and focus on that passion I have for life-long learning. I hope to make more time this year to really keep my mind active and engaged and less focused on trivial pursuits. I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook that could be better used by completing a Spanish lesson or even just reading a good book! Also, I want to make more time for this blog. I find that writing is a good outlet for me and I like to share my life with y’all. It’s not a matter of finding time but of making time. This year I want to really make more time for the things that make me a better person and this is a good place to start.

So, what about y’all. What are your goals for this year? Do you have any do-overs from last year that you’d like another shot at? Are you setting just one big goal or many small goals? I’d love to know what’s in store for you for 2015!

MissCaron

The Mediterranean Diet

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine was just released to the public and is already spreading like wildfire, and for good reason. Not only does the study recommend at least 7 glasses of wine a week (which seems to be the main source of excitement) but it basically debunks the entire “low-fat diet” that has long been recommended. Quite interesting, eh? The New York Times article started right off with the hook, “About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals”. The Atlantic has even done a piece discussing what they thought were the highlights of the study. Articles from all sources seem to point to the fact that what was long recommended is no longer valid and what was long considered by our ancestors is what should be practiced today.

As the journal states:

The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals. In observational cohort studies and a secondary prevention trial (the Lyon Diet Heart Study),increasing adherence to the Mediterranean diet has been consistently beneficial with respect to cardiovascular risk. A systematic review ranked the Mediterranean diet as the most likely dietary model to provide protection against coronary heart disease. Small clinical trials have uncovered plausible biologic mechanisms to explain the salutary effects of this food pattern. We designed a randomized trial to test the efficacy of two Mediterranean diets (one supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and another with nuts), as compared with a control diet (advice on a low-fat diet), on primary cardiovascular prevention.

Recommended in Mediterranean diet

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(New England Journal of Medicine)

Discouraged in Mediterranean diet

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(New England Journal of Medicine)
Of course, we must remember that diet is a lifestyle and not a temporary adjustment. In my house we try and stay away from red meat, we drink red wine regularly, eat fish as often as possible, and use olive oil like it’s going out of style. I had heard someone say years ago that if we just ate the way Jesus ate we’d all be healthier. Well here it is in black and white. I know that I post a lot about diet and lifestyle but I honestly care about each and every one of you. I want people to experience all this life has to offer and not be held back by their health. Thoughts?